Since 1970, Earth Day has been the day millions of people around the world demonstrate their concern for the environment. Today, on Earth Day, we must think of the climate emergency that threatens all life in every corner of the planet.
The climate emergency is the direct result of the priorities of the global capitalist system, in which corporations and banks are willing to go to any lengths to amass their wealth. In their pursuit of profits, they rely on energy corporations to produce cheap energy by extracting fossil fuels, which have filled our atmosphere with more carbon dioxide than ever in human history, resulting in the dangerous heating of our planet.
The consequences of this slash and burn approach to our planet have become impossible to deny. Record heatwaves, rising seas, deadly droughts, intense rainfall, dangerous winds, extreme cold — volatile weather is increasing in its frequency and intensity. In the case of the U.S., we regularly see entire small towns destroyed by tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding and fires, frequently cutting power to hundreds of thousands of people. The entire western U.S. is facing its most severe drought in centuries.
Globally, the impacts are even more severe. Due to massive crop destruction from extreme flooding, Pakistan now faces a deadly hunger crisis, threatening millions of people. India faces a severe water shortage crisis, affecting tens of millions of people. By 2050, an estimated 2.4 billion people around the world will face dangerous water scarcity. Already, the impacts of the climate emergency are causing an average of over 20 million people to be displaced from their homes every year. And these are just some of the immediate impacts — in the long run these disasters will only get increasingly worse.
But the response by governments around the world is predictable. They continue with business as usual, as they further militarize their borders to deny entry to climate refugees. They increase their military spending to prepare for greater conflicts over access to resources and markets. And they make promises of protecting the planet that they have no intention of keeping. Just like President Biden — who as a candidate promised no further fossil fuel drilling on federal lands, only to turn around and increase drilling in Alaska after he became President.
The truth is, the world’s leaders have no exit strategy from the climate crisis because they defend the very system that is the cause of it.
But there is an exit strategy from the climate emergency. The technology already exists to end our reliance on fossil fuels and replace them with renewable energy. We already know how to reorganize agriculture to not only be fossil fuel free, but also to accelerate the absorption of carbon from the atmosphere. We already have the means to reorganize mass transit without fossil fuels. All of this and more is waiting to be implemented. But the system of capitalism, and its priorities of profit, are what stand in our way.
In order to carry out the necessary steps to address the climate emergency, the capitalist system has to go. There is another future waiting for us, but we have no time to lose to bring it about. Our chances are good because, with effective organizing, we’ll have the vast majority of humanity on our side.